The Dangers of Over-Gripping

Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Jenny O, and I have a problem with over-gripping.

"You have a problem with... what?" you ask.

Over-gripping.  It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like: gripping a hold too hard.
See those tendons popping out in my right wrist?  Yeah.

"But... why is it bad to have a really hard grip on a hold?" You ask.  "Seems to me like that's a pretty good idea, to hold on tightly while scaling a tall wall that you have absolutely no interest in falling off of."

The reason it's a bad idea, Gentle Readers, is because it leads you to fatigue more quickly than you might have otherwise.  In other words, it means you're going to lose your ability to stay on that wall a lot sooner than if you'd kept your grip as loose and gentle as is safe.  Holding on too hard leads to not being able to hold on at all.  And the thing is, you really don't have to grip a hold nearly so hard as you think you do.  In fact I was doing a drill today to teach myself how little energy I need to expend to stay on the wall; I would grip a hold, then start to relax my grip until I started to fall, just so I could see how little pressure I actually needed.

It's not just on the rock wall that this problem manifests itself, however.  I tend to over-grip everything.  My steering wheel, pens, phones... everything.  Even Nathan.  Ask him.  I try to be conscious of this bad habit, and thus there are a thousand tiny moments throughout the day wherein I tell myself to Relax and loosen your grip.  And I do, and suddenly realize how much raw force I was using just to write my name, an action which should be effortless.

I have a theory about why this is a problem for me: I am pretty sure it's because I'm something of a control freak.  I like to be in control of all the things, and the best way to keep them firmly in check is to hold on really, really tightly, right?  Right??

Except... it's fatiguing.  And once I fatigue... well, you get the idea.  And it's a long way down.

So add to those thousand tiny moments a thousand more tiny moments, wherein I tell myself, Loosen up.  Let go.  You're not going to fall.

And I don't.


  1. So true...It's like the analogy of holding a handful of sand. The harder you grip, the faster it falls through your fingers. The gentler you "cup" your hands, the more you hang on to. Have a great week lady!

    1. I like that analogy! Although my perverse mind immediately goes to the non-Newtonian fluid, ooblek (that mixtures of corn starch and water you make as a kid) that becomes EASIER to hold on to the harder you grip... stop it brain you are ruining ALL the lessons!

  2. THIS is an amazing blog entry. What a valuable self-discovery, and the perfect analogy.